Miley Cyrus performed “Party in the USA” at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards on August 10, 2009. She performed in a vest that revealed much of her bra, “hot pants,” and leather boots. The performance started with Cyrus and her backup dancers coming out of a trailer and dancing a routine around the stage. Cyrus then stepped onto an ice cream pushcart while dancing on and holding onto what looked to be a dance pole for balance for approximately 40 seconds. This performance has drawn some controversy, with some claiming that it was too sexual for a teen-oriented event.
Apryl Duncan of About.com defended Cyrus, saying, “While Cyrus’ performance is the hot buzz and the most memorable moment of the 2009 Teen Choice Awards, it overshadowed her own big night. She took home six awards for her music and work on Disney’s Hannah Montana. Instead of the young star’s accomplishments, people are fixated on the pole-dancing controversy.” Bill Lamb, also defended Cyrus and her performance. “Miley Cyrus generated some controversy when she performed ‘Party in the USA’ at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards. She was decked out in leather with a dance pole.” He adds, “Any artist’s emergence from being a child or teen star into an adult persona is difficult.”
Cyrus’ performance of the song was compared to recent performances by recording artist Britney Spears, whom Cyrus presented the Ultimate Choice Award to the same night. Cyrus welcomed the comparisons on her official Twitter account, saying,”For all the people calling me the ‘next Britney’ THANK U. I couldn’t ask for a better compliment :)” A spokesperson for the Disney said, “Disney Channel won’t be commenting on that performance, although parents can rest assured that all content presented on the Disney Channel is age-appropriate for our audience – kids 6-14 – and consistent with what our brand values are.”
Cyrus mentioned her performance had a much deeper significance. “I’m like, ‘This is to represent where I am from. I’m so proud of it,’ ” Cyrus explained. “All the girls trying to be Hollywood and stuff with their big glasses, me shooing them away.” Later, on an interview with Larry Carroll of MTV News, Cyrus further explained the concept of her performance. She stated: “My performance tonight is funny, but I wanted it to be about something more, ‘Party in the U.S.A.’ is an all-American song, and so I come out tonight and I’m literally in a trailer park. It’s a blinged-out trailer park.”